It is time.
Two progressive state police forces want to force potential drivers to do what they – believe it or not – currently don’t have to do before getting their license: practice driving with a professional driving instructor.
Senate Bill 8667, introduced by State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge) and paralleled in the Assembly by Bobby Carroll (D-Park Slope), would, for the first time, require drivers six hours of practice “under supervision”. of a driving school instructor” before they can take the practical test and receive their licence.
“Look, it’s reasonable to require people to go through some sort of directed training with a professional,” Carroll told Streetsblog. “The bottom line is that it means we have better drivers on the road.”
Currently, New York State has notoriously lenient rules for obtaining a driver’s license, consisting of only four steps:
- Pass a simple written test to obtain a learner’s permit.
- Drive for 50 hours (15 after sunset) with any licensed adult. The adult does not need to have specialized training (and there is no real verification process to confirm that the novice driver has practiced for 50 hours).
- Take the five-hour course (which, since last year, could for the first time be taken online).
- Take the road test.
In a statement, Gournades blasted the lenient rules.
“For some drivers, the first time they get behind the wheel [as a licensed driver] they have sole control of their car,” he said, adding that current rules contribute to road rage. He cited a 2017 study that found the biggest predictor of crashes was a lack of driving experience; the more time you spend behind the wheel, the lower the risk of an accident.
This year has been particularly violent on the streets of New York, with the highest number of people killed so far since 2013. Already between January 1 and March 28, 58 people have been killed, compared to 40 during the same period. last year, which ended up being the bloodiest year since Vision Zero began.
“Why is it legal for a driver to receive their license without having taken a driving course or having acquired supervised driving experience?” Gonardès asked in a statement. “Requiring all new drivers to have experience on the road and in driver training is a clear way to ensure that all New Yorkers sharing the road are safer, especially when we are losing a record number of members of our community because of the traffic violence every week. »
Driver training operators will no doubt approve of the job security.
“By requiring all new drivers to take professional driving courses, this bill … will go a long way to keeping all New Yorkers safe on our roads,” said Stephen Walling, president of the New York State Association of Professional Driving Schools. in the declaration of Gonardes.
Update: Following the initial publication of this article, the city’s Department of Transportation spokesman, Tomas Garita, said, “Driver education is crucial to keeping pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists on our roads. We are currently reviewing the bill proposed by Senator Gounardes and MP Carroll.
We’ve also asked the State Department of Motor Vehicles for comment and will update this story if they do.